The Boorowa Historical Museum, 35 Marsden St Boorowa NSW, is located in what is believed to be the last commercial building of pise (rammed earth) construction still in use in Australia. The building was built in 1882 by George Patterson as his undertaker’s premises.
The following Time Line shows the development of the Marsden Street museum site, tracking the history and ownership of the pise building from its original development to the present day. A plaque indicates that George Patterson used the building as a funeral parlour and general store until moving to Young in 1906. That business was ongoing in these premises in Boorowa until 1959.
1880 – 1882
George Patterson, first son of Irish immigrants Joseph Patterson and his wife Margaret (nee Hurley), was born on a property called ‘Broughtonworth’ in 1853. The Patterson’s second son Thomas was born in 1855. George moved to (Burrowa) later know as Boorowa and married Catherine Carmody in 1876.
In 1882 on land that extended from Marsden to Market Street, George constructed a ‘pise’ building, and set up his business as a Builder, Contractor and Undertaker, the front section of the building became a general store, run by his wife Catherine.
A timber framework was erected to support the ‘pise’ walls and later removed as the mixture of mud and ash cured. The walls were coated with a mix of sand and lime before being ‘comb’ painted. There were no foundations set out prior to the construction of the building.
1883 – 1913
George Patterson and his sons John Joseph and Thomas Patrick, conducted their undertaking business on the site for thirty-one years. A team of horses was housed at the premises and horse-drawn hearses were used to conduct funerals in Burrowa and the surrounding villages.
1914 – 1958
The undertaking business was carried on at the site for a further fifteen years until George Patterson sold the land and buildings to his son John Joseph in 1929. John Joseph Patterson continued as undertaker to Boorowa and surrounds for a further forty years.
1959 – 1971
TThe building usage changed when John Joseph sold to Michael John Dromgold, a bee keeper. The Dromgold family lived in the premises and operated the bee keeping business for about fifteen years until selling the premises to the Boorowa Shire Council. The Shire Council used the building as a rental property for local families for several years.
1968 – 1975
Canon Edward Whiting and his wife Marjorie of St John Church, instigated the formation of the Boorowa Historical Society on July 25, 1968. Patterson’s old building was prepared in 1973 to house the historical society’s museum paying a peppercorn rent to Council. They were founding members of the society together with Dr Kelf and Gordon Alcorn and other interested members of the community. The museum was opened by George Freudenstine MLA in December 1975.
1975 – 2001
Extensive restorations to the ‘pise’ building took place during this time using Commonwealth Federal funds and a $10,000 Boorowa Council Grant.
2002 – Present Day
The Boorowa District Historical Society Inc. manages the day to day affairs of the Boorowa Museum. At the Annual General Meeting a Committee is elected comprising the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and 3 Ordinary Committee Members. Committee meetings are held on the first Saturday of each calendar month at the museum or at another location as advised. Income is from donations, memberships and a small charge collected at the museum from visitors. Community groups also provide money depending on their activities.
The Museum operates with volunteer labour and is closed during the winter months to allow for maintenance. It is open to the public in summer at weekends, or by request.
Details of the pise building were provided by Mrs Val & Mr David Patterson, Funeral Directors, of Young NSW. (Personal Communication)
Boorowa Council staff confirmed details of change of ownership from M.J. Dromgold to Council (1971)
Current Members of the Museum provided information on the operation of the Museum to the present day. (Personal Communication)
Boorowa Over 160 Years of White Settlement, Helen V. Lloyd
Notes: Further information about the property can be found online at the NSW Land & Property information site. Lot B153440 refers to this address and more details can be found by visiting the Government Department in person and searching for Book 3034, folio 241.